Explosions in Beirut. Close to 160 dead and more than 6 thousand injured

The ministry has revised down the number of missing persons, indicating that there are 21, when it has so far mentioned several dozen.

REUTERS / Mohamed Azakir

The explosions in the port of Beirut on Tuesday, which devastated entire neighborhoods in the Lebanese capital, caused 158 deaths and more than 6.000 injuries, according to a new balance sheet released today by the Ministry of Health.

The ministry has revised down the number of missing persons, indicating that there are 21, when it has so far mentioned several dozen.

The previous balance sheet reported 154 deaths and more than 5.000 injuries due to the explosions, which the Lebanese authorities have attributed to a fire in a warehouse in the port where some 2.750 tons of ammonium nitrate were stored. The government recognized that this dangerous chemical was stored "without precautionary measures".

On Friday, the Ministry of Health said 120 of the wounded were in critical condition, with the explosions also leaving up to 300.000 people homeless.

The explosion with unprecedented force, the most devastating that has ever occurred in Lebanon, has fueled the anger of a population already mobilized since autumn 2019 against Lebanese leaders, accused of corruption and ineffectiveness in demonstrations that brought together hundreds of thousands of people.

Thousands are now concentrated in central Beirut to hold the authorities accountable for the explosions, which Lebanese President Michel Aoun has admitted could be due to "a missile or a bomb".

Aoun on Friday rejected any international investigation into the explosion. Lebanese authorities have already detained more than two dozen people in connection with the disaster, including port and customs officials.

The tragedy hit the country experiencing a political crisis and a serious economic crisis - marked by an unprecedented devaluation of its currency, hyperinflation, mass layoffs -, aggravated by the pandemic of the new coronavirus, which forced the authorities to confine the population for three months.

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